Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The U.S. Needs a Fighting Army Wars Happen Unexpectedly; We Must Be Ready

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The U.S. Needs a Fighting Army Wars Happen Unexpectedly; We Must Be Ready

Article excerpt

Gen. Matthew Ridgway, who took command of U.S. forces in Korea in December 1950, famously wrote that the "primary purpose of an army [is] to be ready to fight effectively at all times."

Ridgway arrived in Korea at a low point in the war: The Chinese had launched a counteroffensive across the Yalu River and pushed a dispirited and disorganized U.S. Army all the way south past Seoul.

How had the force that had driven the German army across France and back into Germany just five years earlier, at the end of World War II, lost the ability to fight effectively?

The answer: During those few years, U.S. political leaders had concluded that with the advent of nuclear weapons, land wars were a thing of the past.

Taking this cue, generals had allowed the armored brigade combat teams from World War II to atrophy. In their place were skeletal divisions of poorly trained U.S. infantry on constabulary duty in Germany and Japan.

Slightly more than 40 years later, a very different U.S. Army evicted Saddam Hussein's military - a far more formidable foe than the North Korean army of 1950 - from Kuwait. In 1991, the U.S. Army was not only better trained and had better resources; it was also working as part of a joint force.

Virtually no Americans anticipated either the North Korean attack in 1950 or Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 40 years later. That seems to be the pattern: U.S. presidents send the Army to resolve unexpected crises, ready or not.

The world today presents a wide array of potential threats to U.S. interests, including a failed North Korean state losing control of its weapons of mass destruction, the morass of civil war in Syria, an aggressive and expansionist Russia or China, or still- unforeseen humanitarian crises in Africa and other areas.

If called upon, the U.S. Army would deploy and engage in peacekeeping operations or major combat between state and non-state actors. In any event, it needs to be ready.

Some have argued that after the frustrating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little American appetite to send the Army into foreign lands, whether to fight, build nations or distribute humanitarian supplies. …

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